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Malaysia to block websites promoting anti-government rally

August 27, 2015

Malaysia's government said it will block access this weekend to websites that distribute information about a major demonstration that will demand the ouster of Prime Minister Najib Razak over graft allegations.

Malaysia Premierminister Najib Abdul Razak
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib RazakImage: picture-alliance/dpa/F. Ismail

Malaysia will block websites attempting to spread information about a two-day rally due to be staged in three cities this weekend by a pro-democracy group demanding Prime Minister Najib Razak's resignation.

The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) said in a post on its official Facebook page on Thursday that it would block websites that "promote, spread information and encourage people to participate" in the protest organized by the civil society group Bersih.

Bersih, Malaysia's leading alliance of independent NGOs, rights groups and reform advocates, plans to hold the demonstration from Saturday afternoon until the end of the evening on Sunday, the eve of Malaysia's independence day, in Kuala Lumpur and in the two Borneo cities of Kota Kinabalu and Kuching.

The group vows to bring out tens of thousands of people to the rally, which authorities called "illegal," raising fears of violent clashes and saying that the demonstrations "threaten stability" and will "tarnish the country's image". It was not clear how widely the blocks would be applied.

Corruption scandal

Najib's cabinet ministers have admitted he received nearly $700 million (about 621.6 million euros) in mysterious deposits into his personal bank accounts starting in 2013, a revelation first brought to light by a Wall Street Journal investigative report last month.

Najib had already been under pressure over months of allegations that huge sums had disappeared from deals involving heavily indebted state investment company 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), which Najib launched in 2009.

The Kuala Lumpur authorities rejected Bersih's application for a permit to hold its rally in the city, setting the stage for a possible showdown with security forces when protesters gather the weekend at five venues and try to converge.

Police used water cannon and tear gas to disperse protesters at Bersih's last big rally in 2012.

dr/jil (AFP, Reuters)